Mortuary Priests and a Police Force Protected the Site
Egyptologists have many theories why New Kingdom pharaohs chose this isolated location for the construction of the Valley of the Queens. The site may hold a political significance: not only was it located near the Valley of the Kings and the worker village Deir el-Medina, but it lies west of the Nile River, across from the capital city of Thebes, in modern-day Luxor, Upper Egypt. There is a grotto dedicated to the goddess Hathor that lies near the opening of the Valley; researchers assume that the ancient Egyptians considered the location a sacred place where the dead could come back to life.
The pyramid tomb complexes built by pharaohs of earlier dynasties were looted continuously, with many grave robbers pilfering the grave goods buried with the dead. As the wealth of the royal family increased throughout the New Kingdom, the grave goods became more luxurious, with gold, jewels, and other symbols of wealth. Pharaohs chose the isolated rocky cliffsides of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens for their proximity to the capital city, but they were still secluded enough to protect them from robberies.
Ancient Egyptians cared for their dead, for they believed that the spirit could re-enter the body in the afterlife. The royal family took special precautions to guard the graves. Mortuary priests preserved the bodies of the dead through mummification; these religious men prayed and performed rituals from their temples adjacent to the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. The remote locations of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens did not deter grave robbing, and looters still broke into the hidden, sealed tombs to steal the cache of valuable items.
The royal family created an elite police force to monitor the tombs. The Medjay used the elevation of the cliffs to patrol the area for opportunistic thieves. As corruption increased by the end of the New Kingdom, many elite nobles and bureaucrats who served the royal family, individuals who would know what was inside the tombs, began orchestrating the grave robbing, provided they received a percentage of the stolen goods. With the increase of the robberies, the mortuary priests moved the bodies of the royal family to protect them from desecration, and many of the mummies remain unrecovered today.